The governor of Negros Oriental had to dig deep into his pocket to have the graft case filed against him by the Ombudsman junked by the Sandiganbayan.
The anti-graft court dismissed the graft case filed against Gov. Roel Degamo over the alleged anomalous use of P10 million for the intelligence operations of the local government in 2013.
In a 17-page resolution promulgated last Monday, the anti-graft court’s First Division granted the motion to dismiss filed by Degamo in his case for one count of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The Sandiganbayan also released Degamo’s P30,000 bail and recalled the hold departure order against him.
In October 2012, Degamo submitted the province’s proposed 2013 budget to the provincial board.
The proposed budget provided a P10-million fund for intelligence expenses.
The budget was approved minus the intelligence fund.
This prompted Degamo to question the non-inclusion of the intelligence fund by issuing a memorandum ordering the release of the P10 million “without further delay.”
The office of Degamo released the fund on April 13, 2013 through a cash advance “for the payment of expenses of intelligence-related operations.”
But the Commission on Audit said the cash advance would have been ‘illegal’ for it was made without an approved ordinance.
In his defense, Degamo said he could not be charged with graft for allegedly giving undue advantage to himself.
He also slammed the Ombudsman for issuing an indictment order without a resolution to his appeal to dismiss the charge.
At the time then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez ordered the filing of the case against Degamo, the governor was with the United Nationalist Alliance led by then-Vice President Jejomar C. Binay. Gutierrez was an appointee of then-President BS Aquino III who belonged to the Liberal Party, at that time the chief rival in the 2016 elections of the UNA.
The Sandiganbayan agreed with Degamo’s arguments.
“In other words, and as stated in the information itself, the subject amount was admittedly not for the personal benefit of the accused-movant but to defray for the expenses which were incurred for different activities related to intelligence operations.”
The anti-graft court also sided with Degamo’s refund of the P10 million and the lack of a notice of disallowance against him from the CoA.
“Wherefore, premises considered, the instant urgent motion to quash and motion to dismiss the information filed by the accused-movant Roel R. Degamo, through counsel, is hereby granted and that accordingly, the instant criminal case is hereby dismissed,” the resolution read.